Air Force Life


By WO1 Ray Tracy

“You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. That’s just our Public Relations Officer (P.R.O.) Wait till you see our padre!”

In Canada’s Air Force, aircrew and groundcrew have always been two sides of the same coin — part of the same team. Aircrew refers to those members of the team directly involved with flying. They include pilots, air combat systems officers (a new designation for navigators, established in 2009, that more accurately reflects their duties and responsibilities), flight engineers, loadmasters, sensor operators, flight stewards, search and rescue technicians, air gunners, wireless (radio) operators, observers, and aircrew specialists such as medical personnel supporting specific mission roles.

The aircrew wouldn’t be in the air without the groundcrew. In some instances, groundcrew has meant those personnel who maintain and repair aircraft, or at other times it meant all members of the non-aircrew group, including clerks, chaplains (known as padres), air traffic controllers, supply personnel, fire fighters, aircraft technicians, and others.


What’s in a name? Over the years, the English title “Royal Canadian Air Force” has been translated many different ways: Aéronatique militaire du Canada, Corps d’aviation royale canadienne, Aviation royale du Canada, or Aviation royale canadienne. But which one is correct? Although the matter was discussed in the mid-1930s, it appears no official French-language title was ever established.

That changed with the restoration of the historical name in 2011 and it’s now officially Aviation royale canadienne. That’s the version we’ve used throughout this publication, even though, during the historical events described, another translation may have been used.


424 Transport and Rescue Squadron standard, showing battle honours.

Battle honours are awarded to provide public recognition to combatant units for active participation in battle against a formed, armed and declared enemy.

Canadian airmen fought as part of the British flying services in the First World War. There were no officially air force battle honours allocated until after the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force (RAF) drew up a list of battles to be honoured. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) subscribed to the British list, but modified one honour and added three others. Air Force battle honours may be “major” (theatre honours) or “subsidiary” (for specific geographic locations and restricted dates).

List of battle honours